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27 May, 2024
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Twins reunited with parents after buffer zone ordeal

Police investigate network suspected of human smuggling after missing girl turned up at Pournara camp


Greek Cypriot authorities helped two twins reunite with their family in the north, after the foreign parents got separated from the girls who ended up in the south during a partially foiled illegal crossing attempt.

A 3-year-old girl, who disappeared Tuesday morning in the buffer zone while her twin sister was picked up UN officers, turned up at Pournara migrant camp in rural Nicosia later in the afternoon, with both girls reuniting with their parents by day’s end at Ledra Palace inside the UN buffer zone.

Local media said a five-member family from Pakistan including a young infant had attempted Tuesday morning before dawn to cross illegally from north to south through the buffer zone near Athienou. But the small group, which included Nigerian asylum seekers, ended up dispersing amid confusion after Turkish Cypriot police got wind of the operation.

The parents and young infant were taken to a police station in the north where they told Turkish Cypriot officers about their missing twins, one of whom had already been handed over to Greek Cypriot authorities by UN officers and placed in the care of a social welfare officer in the south.

Parental consent is required for DNA samples from minors, while the Greek Cypriot co-head of a bicommunal crime committee told state radio he was not aware of DNA profiling in the south

Reports that a DNA sample was taken from the child during medical exams for profiling the family at a later stage were not immediately answered.

Andreas Kapardis, the Greek Cypriot co-head of a bicommunal crime committee, told state radio on Wednesday morning that he was not aware of DNA profiling by officials in the south.

Parental consent is required in order to take DNA samples from minors unless there is a medical emergency.

But local media later said Greek Cypriot authorities managed to obtain DNA samples of the parents from Turkish Cypriot authorities through the bicommunal committee to confirm the identity of the kids.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou said law enforcement got word from Pournara that a Nigerian female asylum seeker who arrived at the camp with a child on Tuesday had told immigration officials she picked up the girl after she got separated from her parents.

Andreou emphasized that DNA samples were taken from both girls to confirm their identities, saying one girl was reunited with her family in the afternoon and the other later in the night.

The parents, initially described in local media as being of Arab origins but later said to be Pakistani nationals, had joined a handful of others from African countries a day after another attempt had proven to be unsuccessful.

Details of the handover were not immediately known but Kapardis said the girls were reunited with their parents in the buffer zone with the help of UN and Greek Cypriot officials.

Police are investigating after the Nigerian woman was believed to have been driven from the Athienou area to Pournara in a vehicle suspected to be part of a human smuggling network.

Cyprus  |  buffer zone  |  Pakistan  |  north  |  south  |  Turkish  |  Greek  |  Cypriot  |  missing twins  |  Pournara  |  asylum seeker  |  Nigeria  |  migration

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